Tuesday, May 29, 2018


Are you an expert in your field?

You may not think so, however, others may disagree with you.

I checked Webster. Expert: one who is very skillful or well-informed in some special field.

I then borrowed, in part, from Wikipedia: An expert is someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique, or skill, whose facility for judging or deciding rightly, is accorded authority in a particular field of study.

What they are saying, in short, is that some achieve expert status academically or through service, sometimes lifelong, in a chosen field.

Recently, a down-the-street neighbor and another gentleman stopped me out by my gate.

“Are you that mushroom guru?” he asked.

In an attempt to be friendly but humble, I answered, “Well, I know a little about some mushrooms but mostly just about the ones that pay money.” That part was true.

Why be so humble one might ask? Hey, for those in the know, there are over 3000 varieties of mushrooms that grow within the North American continent. I have learned, through extensive research and fielding, about quite a few with an emphasis on those that can be sold to dealers.

What the neighbor was referring to was the fact that I wrote my first book, titled Matsutake Mushroom, published by Naturegraph publishers in 1997. The name of the book is deceptive because, though it is about Matsutake mushrooms, the story I wrote is about harvesting, selling and buying a very perishable product at unheard of high prices in a capricious market. Generally, $16.00 a pound--average--is the going rate paid to pickers, whom are mostly locals or large numbers of itinerant, out of the area, predominately Asian pickers.


Some said it was a modern-day gold rush, a race for the riches. The story tells of the radical pricing of over $200.00 per pound offered to pickers in the 1994 annual harvest, and the race to capitalize while the season lasted.
I won’t go into specifics, what the heck, that would be retelling of the story.

Most people never heard of Matsutake mushrooms, which is harvested, in volume, from mostly national forest lands in the Pacific northwestern U.S., in the fall of each year, for export to Japan.

I learned of the practice back in 1993, then I spent that four-month season and the following year’s season harvesting, selling and eventually operating as a buyer, for the Matsutake. I kept a journal, then later wrote the book about my experiences.

In a review for Mushroom, The Journal of Wild Mushroom, a critic wrote, “Writing books may pay better than toiling up steep hill sides to find mushrooms but I had to pay my dues first.” Whatever that meant.

I never professed to know that much about mushrooms. The scientific qualities of the Matsutake, I leave up to mycology professors such as David Arora, author of All That The Rain Promises and More.

Twenty-one years later, my book still sells a few copies each year.

I never thought of myself as an expert on anything; just as others have often referred to themselves--a jack of all trades, master of none.

I will admit to the fact that I do have more knowledge on mushrooms than most folks, and in particular, about Matsutake mushrooms, so if some folks want to call me an authority or expert on the subject, then I am okay with that and appreciative.

How about you? Do you know more about a given subject than several others combined? If so, you are most likely considered to be an expert.


  1. You did hit a tender spot with this post. I think most people feel they can talk intelligently about something they've studied, but stop short of calling themselves experts. I've always thought if I know it then everyone else does also. Time has proven me wrong in that belief. I probably know more about early Colorado women doctors than most, but still don't consider myself an expert.

    I think it boils downt to not wanting to be 'snobbish' and yet still being comfortable with speaking well on the subject of knowledge. Thanks for bringing the concept up for discussion. Doris

    1. I agree, Doris. Yes, there are things that some folks know quite a bit about but keep it to themselves for the most part.
      Thanks for replying.

  2. Jerry,

    As Renaissance Women expressed so well, there's a fine line between being an expert and being a snob. However, I agree with you that we all have an area(s) of special interest, skill, or knowledge. Mine is education-based. My entire education career was focused on students with special needs, particularly the students with learning disabilities (school psychologist, teacher, administrator). Although I retired five years ago, I'm still a go-to person in my neck of the woods for special education questions and strategies.

    1. Well heck, Kaye. Those folks that call on you as a go-to person have figured out that you are the best person to answer their questions. That is commendable.

  3. Good article, Jerry, with lots of food for thought...hope I'm not being too punny. I'm guessing lots of us are experts in something but actually don't realize it. But if anyone sat down and gave it some thought, I'm sure they could come up with something they know a lot about. So many resources exist today that can help us get up to speed on any subject and fill in any needed gaps of information .

    1. That is true, Tom. Almost everyone has an expertise. Some of it though a lifetime of employment. Others, writers per say, do research that broadens their endeavors.

  4. Good article, Jerry.

    I went on a mushroom walk with the family and was shown how to tell the difference between the poisonous and the edible types of mushrooms - but even then, did not have the nerve to try pick my own!

  5. It takes a lot of research. Even so, I am reluctant to take another's word that what they deem okay actually is. The safest thing is to buy the mushrooms you eat at the supermarkets and go on a hunt just for the enjoyment of finding and identifying with a reference booklet in hand.